Rally Mexico.

03 – 06 March 2016.

 

Red-hot coverage, exclusive background reports, interviews, the latest photos – simply everything on the 2016 Rally Mexico. You are always up to date here.

Timetable

 

Note: All times in the timetable are given in CET (as of: 01/02/2016).

Thursday, 03/03/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
16:00   Shakedown (Llano Grande)      

Friday, 04/03/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
03:00   Ceremonial Start (Alhondiga)      
03:10 SS01 Street Stage Guanajuato 00.85 km 01.09 km  
04:30 SS02 Super Special 1 43.05 km 02.30 km  
04:35 SS03 Super Special 2   02.30 km 24.57 km
16:18 SS04 El Chocolate 1 51.31 km 54.21 km  
17:41 SS05 Las Minas 1 03.77 km 15.36 km  
19:14 SS06 Street Stage León 1 64.81 km 01.41 km 01.29 km
21:27 SS07 El Chocolate 2 51.31 km 54.21 km  
22:50 SS08 Las Minas 2 03.77 km 15.36 km  

Saturday, 05/03/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
00:20 SS09 Super Special 3 46.96 km 02.30 km  
00:25 SS10 Super Special 4   02.30 km 24.57 km
15:53 SS11 Ibarrilla 15.82 km 30.38 km  
17:11 SS12 Otates 1 23.09 km 42.62 km  
18:14 SS13 El Brinco 1 02.31 km 07.15 km 42.73 km
21:08 SS14 Agua Zarca 1 15.82 km 16.47 km  
22:36 SS15 Otates 2 37.00 km 42.62 km  
23:39 SS16 El Brinco 2 02.31 km 07.15 km  

Sunday, 06/03/2016

Time SS Name Liaison SS km Liaison
00:34 SS17 Super Special 5 23.19 km 02.30 km  
00:39 SS18 Super Special 6   02.30 km 25.19 km
03:35 SS19 Street Stage León 2 02.21 km 01.41 km 01.36 km
15:03 SS20 Guanajuato 33.58 km 80.00 km 22.24 km
19:08 SS21 Agua Zarca 2 (Power Stage) 18.72 km 16.47 km 43.68 km

Sunday, 06/03/2016


Fantastic fans, a unique atmosphere, a crazy manoeuvre from Ogier, and a dominant win for Latvala – the Rally Mexico had a bit of everything. Check out the highlights in our video.


Best images of the day (18).


Summary

Latvala back to winning ways.

 

In an interview a few weeks ago, Jari-Matti Latvala said “Things are on the up no.” After failing to pick up points twice in Monte Carlo and Sweden, at the third rally of the year in Mexico, the Finn proved impressively that he hasn’t forgotten how to win. He dominated the first gravel rally of the year and won with a lead of 1:05 minutes over team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who clinched victory on the closing power stage.


Jari-Matti’s mood was appropriately relaxed at the finish line. “A fantastic feeling,” said Jari-Matti. “I had a difficult start to the season, with no points in the first two rallies. This rally was perfect. I’m back!” It was JML’s 16th WRC victory of his career; he got nine of these for the Volkswagen brand. Latvala drove a tactically clever rally in the Mexican mountain air and didn’t let his rivals get a look in.

On Saturday, world champion Ogier already recognised that he stood no chance against Jari-Matti. “Jari-Matti is just too strong here,” said Ogier, who finished second in Mexico, clinched the one-two victory for Volkswagen this year and further extended his lead in the world championship. Ogier’s victory on the power stage saw him pick up three bonus points.

Going into the final day, Latvala already had an advantage of 1:36 minutes over Seb. Things looked to be in the bag. But the 80-kilometre Guanajuato stage with its many demanding passages and spectacular jumps had to be completed on Sunday. Latvala didn’t take any unnecessary risks. Team-mate Ogier, who was at a disadvantage the previous two days having to take to the track first and play “road sweeper”, was impressive on the marathon stage and got a fantastic time, which saw him reduce Latvala’s lead by 25.3 seconds. However, Latvala’s advantage didn’t drop below the one-minute mark on the closing power stage.

Andreas Mikkelsen suffered disappointment in Mexico. After second place in Monte Carlo and fourth place in Sweden, an accident on Saturday forced the Norwegian to retire early in Mexico. Until that point, Mikkelsen was in the running for a podium position.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Finally pick up points.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“All in all, second place for Julien and I was the best-possible result this weekend. Thanks to victory on the Power Stage, we picked up 21 important points in the championship standings, which is what counts overall. Naturally, I would have hoped to stage a more exciting duel with Jari-Matti for the many fans. But there was no way that was possible; our road conditions on the first two days were far too different. That's not taking anything away from his performance, Jari-Matti thoroughly deserved the win and my congrats go to him and Miikka. I'd like to say a special thanks to the thousands of fans here in Mexico: For Julien and I, it is a highlight to come here every year. The enthusiasm and friendliness of the people is fantastic, and on top of that the stages we drive through are beautiful. Until next year, ¡Viva Mexico!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am very happy and satisfied. This is a fantastic result, not just for me, but for the whole team. After the disappointing results in the first two events, it was important to finally pick up points. I managed that with the win. Naturally, I had a good basis with my starting position this weekend, but the longest rally of the season still had to be mastered. We found a good set-up and also chose the right tactics. My thanks go to my engineer Fabrice van Ertvelde and my mechanics in particular. However, we will by no means be resting on our laurels, rather we will take the momentum with us to Argentina.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Unfortunately, the Rally Mexico was over for us far too early, although we were doing well. We reduced our deficit to Dani Sordo on Saturday morning and wanted to continue to attack third place. But on the second pass of 'Otates' we came over a crest a little too quickly then came out wide and hit a buttress at the front right. We spun around and came off the road. There was no way we could keep driving since we were stuck in a ditch. Naturally, that is more than disappointing since I had planned on much more. My mechanics tried to get the car ready to restart under Rally 2 regulations, but unfortunately it wasn't possible. We are now looking ahead to Argentina and are focussed on making amends for leaving here empty-handed.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“The Rally Mexico was a total success for Volkswagen – especially as winning here is far from a matter of course. At no other rally do we hit the same heights as here – a Herculean task for the engine department, for whom the thin air poses a tricky problem when it comes to engine management. The rally also features the longest special stage on the calendar. That is also a big challenge for the chassis department and our tyre partner Michelin. We did a top-class job of overcoming these challenges as a team. Our drivers and co-drivers, in particular, deserve the utmost respect. Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila made the most of their starting position and intelligently took advantage of being one of the last World Rally Cars onto the route. On the other side of the coin, Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia superbly overcame the disadvantage of opening the route. All in all, this one-two is a huge effort, and one that we at Volkswagen are very proud of.”

 


Final classification 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Total Time / Diff 1st  
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 4h 25m 57.4s  
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +1m 05.0s  
3 D. Sordo / M. Martí +3m 37.9s  
4 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +5m 36.4s  
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +6m 22.6s  
6 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +9m 59.5s  
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +12m 58,5s  
8 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +14m 09.6s  
9 T. Suninen / M. Markkula +18m 01.8s  
10 V. Gorban / V. Korsia +32m 37.3s  

Number of the day

12

 

From the 2015 Rally Portugal to the 2016 Rally Mexico – Volkswagen has equalled its own record. Twelve wins in a row marks the second time the manufacturer has achieved the longest winning run in the history of the World Rally Championship. Volkswagen had previously completed a dozen back-to-back victories with the Polo R WRC between the 2013 Rally Australia and the 2014 Rally Finland. The third longest winning run is held by Citroën, who managed eight successive wins in 2011.


Mexico, the Roof of the WRC is a huge challenge for man and machine. At over 2,700 metres above sea level – the air is thin up there, drivers and engines reallye notice that.


Sunday: the special stages of the third day.

Saturday, 05/03/2016


Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia are celebrating a special occasion at the Rally Mexico. Congratulations from their fans, team-mates and rivals.


BEST IMAGES OF THE DAY (17).


Day Recap

Latvala ready for the monster stage.

There’s a saying in motorsport. To finish first, you first have to finish. Initially this sounds as simple as it is logical. However, there are plenty of examples in motorsport of drivers thinking that victory is in the bag and then failing to reach the finish line.

Naturally this means everything and nothing for the Rally Mexico. Jari-Matti Latvala was once again the outstanding protagonist of the third WRC event of 2016 on Saturday. He and his navigator Miikka Anttila in the Volkswagen Polo R WRC have clinched eleven stage wins in Mexico so far. Six of these were on Saturday. The Finnish Connection lead the Rally Mexico with an impressive advantage of 1:35.07 minutes over their team-mate and world champion Sébastien Ogier.

“It was a great day for us,” was JML’s summary of Saturday’s action. “We added to our overall lead. But there is still a long way to go.” Latvala knows what is what. Nothing is won yet. There might only be two special stages scheduled for Sunday, but the very first stage is a test that couldn’t get much more difficult. There are 80 kilometres to master. A real monster of a stage. This is the maximum stage length permitted by the current WRC regulations.

It has been 30 years since a stage was almost twice the length of a marathon. In 1986, the “Liamone-Suaricchio” stage at the Rally Corsica was 82.99 kilometres. The Guanajuato stage on Sunday morning isn’t far off. A nice easy start to the final day of rallying, slowly warming up and focussing on the finale? That is by no means possible on Guanajuato. Rather, you have to be wide-awake right from the start, and then for about 60 minutes. Even the slightest bit of carelessness can mean retirement.

And unfortunately Andreas Mikkelsen experienced just how quickly that can happen on Saturday, when he came off the track on the 15th stage and was forced to end his day early after previously being just 4.5 seconds away from third place. A rally is only over when you have reached the final finish line. That’s the way it is. Which is why Latvala said “We have to remain fully focussed”. After about 14 years in the most challenging rally class in the world, Latvala knows this very special saying only too well.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

That worked perfectly.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Generally speaking, I am really happy with today. Julien and I could not have done any more in the cockpit. It was clear to me early on that Jari-Matti would extend his lead, given his good starting position and impressive display. My priority here at the Rally Mexico remains to hold off my closest rivals in the world championship. If we end up finishing second, I can certainly live with that. I am now looking forward to the 80-kilometre stage on Sunday, which will be a huge challenge – particularly when it comes to concentration. And it goes without saying that I am determined to do well on the Power Stage – that is a point of honour!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“When you extend your lead to over one and a half minutes by the end of the evening, you cannot be anything but happy. My starting position obviously still gave me an advantage. Despite this, the long stages and high temperatures made the day a real challenge. Like yesterday, it was all about finding the right mixture of risk and caution, in order to open up a decent lead ahead of tomorrow. That worked perfectly. However, when you still have an 80-kilometre stage to tackle, as we do tomorrow, it is still far from over.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The day started well for us, but ended badly. We closed the gap to Dani Sordo this morning, and wanted to push for third place again. However, we took a crest a little too quickly on the second running of ‘Otates’. We then went wide and hit a buttress with the front right of the car. We spun and skidded off the road. There was no chance of continuing, as we were stuck in a ditch. That is obviously disappointing, as I had hoped for more this morning. My mechanics tried to get the car going again under Rally 2 regulations, but unfortunately that is not possible. We are now looking ahead to Argentina, and are focussed on making amends for leaving here empty handed.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“Two outstanding drives from Jari-Matti Latvala and Sébastien Ogier, and we have strengthened our grip on a one-two – it was a good day for Volkswagen. Jari-Matti cleverly took full advantage of his late starting position and has opened a good lead over Sébastien. And Sébastien fought tooth and nail to stem the loss of time that comes with opening the route. Neither performance can be praised highly enough. It would have been a perfect day for Volkswagen if Andreas Mikkelsen had been rewarded for fighting his way back towards third place. However, a minor mistake with major consequences put paid to that. We have another very tough day ahead of us tomorrow. But we are well prepared for it, and start the day in an excellent position.”

 


Classification after 19 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 3h 27m 22.8s
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +1m 35.7s
3 D. Sordo / M. Martí +2m 40.4s
4 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +4m 48.8s
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +5m 42.1s
6 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +7m 50.5s.
7 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +9m 23.5s
8 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +10m 19.5s
9 T. Suninen / M. Markkula +12m 33.7s
10 V. Gorban / V. Korsia +27m 49.s

“Repdigits” of the day

22, 33 and 55

 

In terms of podium results, all three Volkswagen drivers, Sébastien Ogier, Jari-Matti Latvala and Andreas Mikkelsen have repeated instances of the same digit in their statistics. For example, Sébastien Ogier has 33 podium results to his name in his career with Volkswagen. Jari-Matti Latvala has made it onto the podium a total of 55 times, 22 of which were with the Polo R WRC. And Andreas Mikkelsen? He has a rate of 22 per cent – namely 15 podium positions in 67 starts – all of them with the Polo R WRC.


Midday report

Latvala in a class of his own.


Jari-Matti Latvala is dominating the Rally Mexico at will. He won all three of Saturday morning’s special stages. The Finn clearly enjoyed putting pedal to the metal at the first gravel rally of the year. He made it look so easy, that one could soon forget that JML has his hands full in the cockpit. “I am looking forward to the midday service,” said Jari-Matti after SS 13, El Brinco. “I can relax and switch off for a bit now.”

 

Latvala has won eight of the 13 special stages so far at the rally in Central America. Nobody seems to be able to hold a candle to him yet. Not even team-mate and world champion Sébastien Ogier, who trails the Finn by a full 1:16 minutes on Saturday afternoon. The Frenchman seems to have given up the chase. “I am focussing on my closest rival in the world championship, and that is Andreas,” Ogier said. 

 

The Andreas in question is Andreas Mikkelsen, who remains fourth overall and has his sights set on a place on the podium. Third place is currently held by Hyundai driver Dani Sordo. However, Mikkelsen cut the Spaniard’s advantage by almost ten seconds on the morning loop. “I knew the final stage of the morning very well, and was really able to put my foot down,” said Mikkelsen. “The Polo R WRC is running perfectly.” The stage is set for a fightback in the afternoon.

 

 

Standings after SS 13:

 

1. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 2:39:22.1 hrs.

2. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) +1:16.3 min.

3. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +2:09.0 min.

4. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +2:23.9 min.

5. Mads Østberg (Ford) +3:49.8 min. 


Saturday: the special stages of the second day.

Friday, 04.03.2016


Best images of the day (11).


Day recap

High-flyer.

 

La-va-la, La-va-la, La-va-la! That’s what it often sounds like when fans in the service park call Jari-Matti Latvala’s name in the hope of getting an autograph or taking a selfie with our Finn. Now at the 2016 Rally Mexico there is a new version: La Bala, La Bala, La Bala! It sounds the same but means something different. The bullet. And this most recent nickname really suits what JML delivered on the seven special stages in Mexico on Friday. He and his co-driver Miikka Anttila were real high-flyers. And their outstanding performances were not only rewarded with the overall lead at the end of the day, but also with a sizeable advantage of 32.1 seconds over their team-mates Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia.
 
Latvala laid the foundations for his success on the first special stage of the day – “El Chocolate” at over 54 kilometres in length. As eighth in the starting field, he was able to take advantage of the track that had mostly been swept clear and had more grip. His tyre selection – three soft and two hard tyres, while Ogier only had one hard tyre – also paid off. Starting the day in third overall, JML flew to victory on “El Chocolate” and pushed Ogier, who had been leading up to that point, into second place. Latvala’s advantage at this point was 19 seconds.
 
On the other stages – including the second pass of the long “El Chocolate”, which ended with another clear stage victory for JML – Latvala continued to extend his lead over Ogier. “I definitely benefitted from my starting position today,” said Latvala at the end of the day. “But nothing is certain yet, there is still a long way to go in the rally.” However, Latvala was unable to stop himself from grinning slightly. There's no doubt that he is hoping his prediction from a few weeks ago will come true and that now – after two WRC starts this season where he failed to pick up any points – he has finally used up his quota of bad luck. Latvala definitely wouldn’t have anything against living up to his new nickname in the coming rallies.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

“Still a long way to go.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“So far I am more than satisfied with the progress of the rally. Julien and I have given it our all, we drive at the limit. I took a bit more of a risk with the soft tyres in the morning to have as much grip as possible on the extremely slippery gravel. My aim for this weekend is to stay ahead of my direct rivals such as Andreas, Mads and Hayden in the championship classifications. And so far things are going according to plan. In any case, the stages here in Mexico are beautiful as always. However, on the first pass of the ‘El Chocolate’ stage, Julien and I had a brief moment of terror when we came across a few cows. Fortunately for the cows and us, everything went smoothly. This time we wouldn't have minded a closed gate!”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“All in all it was a very positive day for me. Naturally my starting position gave me an advantage in the morning in particular, but it was far from an easy day. On the first pass of the ‘El Chocolate’ stage, it was very slippery in places and I couldn't tell whether I was fast enough. But I kept my rhythm and that was the right decision. And in the afternoon I even extended my lead with the right combination of risk and caution. The starting position is very good, but there is still a long way to go.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“I was a little bit too cautious in the morning and was a little bit restrained on the long ‘El Chocolate’ stage. We lost a bit of time to our team-mates there, but overall we were very pleased with how things went. We definitely made the right decision for the tricky tyre selection. I went for four soft tyres in the morning, and I wanted to go on the attack with the hard tyres in the afternoon. I slipped too much on a junction on the second pass of ‘El Chocolate’, had to turn and instead of making up time, lost some. After that the car didn’t feel exactly like it had done before, which is why I reduced my speed slightly. We will try to take third place tomorrow. But considering our large deficit this will be a hard task. One thing is clear, we will try our best.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“A fantastic day for Volkswagen in Mexico, and I think that we put on a great show for our many fans on the special stages and in the service park, and in particular got great results. A perfect team performance was required today. The weather crew collected the data in the morning, the engineers and drivers made an extremely clever tyre selection together, while taking the different starting positions of our drivers into account. The fact that we finished the first day with a one-two lead and fourth place was far from guaranteed. The fact that we achieved this makes me proud. I take my hat off to our drivers – all three of them delivered a top performance today.”

 


Classification after 10 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 J. Latvala / M. Anttila 1h 48m 00.0s
2 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia +32.1s
3 D. Sordo / M. Martí +1m 15.6s
4 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +1m 46.7s
5 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +2m 20.8s
6 M. Østberg / O. Fløene +2m 35.6s
7 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +3m 53.8s.
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +4m 56.3s
9 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +5m 11.3s
10 T. Suninen / M. Markkula +5m 43.7s

Number of the day

750 

 

The Volkswagen Polo R WRC completed its 750th special stage since the 2013 Rally Monte Carlo at the Rally Mexico today. Ogier, Latvala and Mikkelsen really went for it to celebrate this moment. On this special stage, the first pass of “Las Minas”, all three of the best times went to Volkswagen. It was the 96th time that all three World Rally Cars from Wolfsburg took all of the top spots. On Friday evening, the Polo R WRC completed its 755th special stage, and Volkswagen drivers have claimed the best time on 532 of these stages – which is a rate of 70 per cent.


Midday report

Latvala at the top, Ogier in second place.

 

Jari-Matti Latvala continues to gain momentum on day one at the Rally Mexico and is in first place at the lunch break with a comfortable advantage of 21.2 seconds over team-mate Sébastien Ogier. The Finn benefitted from his tyre selection, for which he made a clever compromise. 

 

“The tracks were slippery, but my later starting position served me well and I was able to really go for it,” said Latvala, who was eighth to take to the special stages after his recent retirement in Sweden. He took three soft and two hard Michelin compounds onto the stages with his Polo R WRC. So far this strategy seems to be working.

 

Latvala won two of the morning’s three stages, including the 54-kilometre classic El Chocolate, on which the WRC cars hurtled up to an altitude of 2,746 metres. The following two stages were a sharp contrast: El Minas at 15.36 kilometres and the street stage in León at 1.41 kilometres had a real sprint characteristic.

 

Sébastien Ogier was unable to do anything about Jari-Matti in the morning. The fact that the world champion had to take to the track first as championship leader hampered his plans of really going on the attack at the 100th rally of his career. Nevertheless, at the lunch break Ogier said: “I am really happy with the interim standings. My pace is really good when you consider that I am the first car on the track.” Ogier was faced with an extremely dusty track. The hard gravel surface was driven clean during the course of the stage. Ogier, who has a mixture of four soft tyres and one hard tyre on board, should be in a better situation in the afternoon. Providing that the dust doesn’t blow back onto the track.

 

Andreas Mikkelsen went for one type of tyre on day one. He set off for the stages with five soft Michelin tyres. This turned out to be a disadvantage on the long El Chocolate stage in particular. He lost 39 seconds on that stage alone. However, the tyres provided more traction on the following two stages. Mikkelsen won the street stage in León and is currently in fourth place overall.

 

 

Standings after SS 6:

 

1. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 55.28.4 min.

2. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) +21.2 sec.

3. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) +33.4 sec.

4. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) +43.9 sec.

5. Mads Østberg (Ford) +1.28.9 min. 


Friday: the special stages of day 1.

Thursday, 03.03.2016


Best images of the day (25).


Summary

Rally spectacle underway – Ogier leads.

Narrow streets, thousands of fans, an atmosphere that is unrivalled in the WRC. The World Rally Championship has arrived in Mexico, the first gravel rally of the year. At the ceremonial start in the beautiful, former mining town of Guanajuato, the rally stars were first presented to the delighted crowd before setting off through the winding streets at full throttle. The first special stage (unlike the rest of the rally) was held on asphalt and was just a kilometre in length. But it was a real challenge.

 

In particular, the tunnel, which is already something of a cult in the WRC world with its graffiti on the walls, had a surprise in store. “There was a huge puddle and it was really quite slippery,“ said Jari-Matti Latvala at the finish line. But the Finn kept control of his Polo R WRC and finished the first special stage in fourth place. Just ahead of him was team-mate Sébastien Ogier, who is contesting his 100th rally this weekend. The Frenchman highlighted the significance of the shortest stage on the rally calendar: “You can’t win the rally on this stage, but you can lose it.” That sounds almost philosophical.

 

The following two stages weren’t much longer (2.3 kilometres) and were held at the Autodromo León in the city of the same name. Ogier picked up speed there, got the best time twice and took the top spot on the timesheet, 1.7 seconds ahead of Thierry Neuville (Hyundai). “The result doesn’t mean all that much,” said Ogier afterwards. “The rally only really gets going tomorrow; the lead can disappear quickly.” Latvala is in third place in the overall standings with a deficit of 3.3 seconds; Andreas Mikkelsen is in fourth with a deficit of 3.8 seconds.

 

Friday has seven special stages in store for the WRC drivers, including the well-known and demanding “El Chocolate” at 54.21 kilometres. 


Classification after 3 of 21 stages

Position Driver / Co-driver Time / Diff 1st
1 S. Ogier / J. Ingrassia 4m 16.5s
2 T. Neuville / N. Gilsoul +1.7s
3 J. Latvala / M. Anttila +3.3s
4 A. Mikkelsen / A. Jæger +3.8s
5 D. Sordo / M. Martí +4.1s
6 H. Paddon / J. Kennard +4.6s
7 L. Bertelli / S. Scattolin +5.7s
8 M. Prokop / J. Tománek +5.8s
9 O. Tänak / R. Mõlder +5.9s
10 B. Guerra / B. Rozada +6.0s

Quotes from the Volkswagen team

The spectators are incredible.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“Being able to hear the fans in the car during a special stage – you only get that at the start of the Rally Mexico. The spectators in Guanajuato are incredible. It is definitely one of the best spectator stages in the WRC and we tried to give something back to the fans with a real show. But one thing is clear: the real start isn’t until Friday when we take on the long ‘El Chocolate’ stage.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“The start of the Rally Mexico lived up to its reputation as the best opening ceremony on the calendar once again. There are more people every year and the atmosphere is unique. I’m happy with the times. The priority on the short spectators stages such as the three today is not to make any major errors – but also not to lose too much time. We did well today. The ‘El Chocolate’ stage on Friday is of a totally different calibre. You have to be wide-awake right from the start.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The fans in Mexico are something special. They cheer us drivers and co-drivers on fairly and at high volume, they are all positive and hospitable – it really lifts your spirits coming to the Rally Mexico. In this respect, naturally the highlight is the ceremonial start in Guanajuato with its unique atmosphere. The first three special stages aren’t really an indicator of how the rally will go. Overall I am satisfied with the start, even though I didn’t find the exact line in places.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“An atmosphere like that in a football stadium, the fabulous backdrop of Guanajuato and precise driving skills of the drivers – the opener of the Rally Mexico is unparalleled on the WRC calendar and everything was in order once again this evening. Kudos to the organisers, who did a fantastic job. Volkswagen got off to a good start – however, the Rally Mexico only really gets going on Friday. The highest point of the WRC season at more than 2700 metres above sea level and a 54-kilometre stage first thing in the morning – that is a real challenge that we are looking forward to taking on. After this emotional start today, the drivers are extremely motivated.”

 


Number of the day

100

 

In Mexico Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia line up in the WRC for the 100th time. As a gift they got a cake from the Volkswagen team. And even though Motorsport Director Jost Capito made reference to the perfect size of the cake that would easily have had room for two faces next to each other, the dessert didn’t end up there. Instead, it was shared out among all of the team members and quickly devoured. Incidentally, there won’t be another cake for this occasion in the Volkswagen rally team before the seventh event of the season in 2018, when Andreas Mikkelsen could celebrate his 100th WRC start.


Volkswagen drivers relish the challenge in Mexico. The video.


Shakedown

Mikkelsen setting the pace.


“Llano Grande” was the inofficial start of the 2016 Rally Mexico. It was the name of the shakedown stage, the “free practice” for the third round of the WRC season. The best pairing on the 5.5-kilometre-long stage: Andreas Mikkelsen and his co-driver Anders Jæger in the Polo R WRC. The two Norwegians set the pace with a time of 3:43.9 minutes. Mikkelsen’s friend Thierry Neuville (Hyundai, 3:45.5) finished second while world champion Sébastien Ogier and Julien Ingrassia (3:45.6) finished third in the other Polo R WRC. The third Volkswagen duo, Jari-Matti Latvala and Miikka Anttila, got to a P4 finish (3:48,1) in the first gravel event of the season.

“The plan for today was to adapt to the high altitude and the gravel. Right from the start we had planned to do a lot of runs, in order to find our feet as well as possible,” said Mikkelsen back in the service park. “We did just that. Last year I was not entirely happy with our pace on this stage – but today it all went as hoped.” After the ceremonial start of the rally, more driving action was to come with three special stages on Thursday evening local time. Find live updates throughout the rally on Twitter at @VolkswagenRally.

 

 

Shakedown results (top 5):

 

1. Andreas Mikkelsen (Polo R WRC #9) 3m 43.9s

2. Thierry Neuville (Hyundai) 3m 45.5s

3. Sébastien Ogier (Polo R WRC #1) 3m 45.6s

4. Jari-Matti Latvala (Polo R WRC #2) 3m 48.1s

5. Dani Sordo (Hyundai) 3m 48.1s


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

We had planned to do a lot of runs, in order to find our feet as well as possible.


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Shakedown ran smoothly for Julien and me. The Polo feels perfect, the special stages are in great condition, and we are as well-prepared as possible. As far as I am concerned, I am ready to get going. The atmosphere at the ceremonial start in Guanajuato will be a spine-tingling experience, as it always is. I am sure it will be even more emotional for us this time, as we are making our 100th appearance in the World Rally Championship. It is particularly nice to reach this milestone here in Mexico, where my career began in the Junior WRC in 2008.”
 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“I am really happy, as the Shakedown went very positively for us. Right from the word go the set-up of the Polo R WRC felt good, and we were able to work through our programme as planned. The fewer runs you complete, the less dirt you pick up – which is something the mechanics are also grateful for. But joking aside: I am now really looking forward to the emotional start and the atmosphere in Guanajuato, which is always awesome.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“The plan for today was to adapt to the high altitude and the gravel. Right from the start we had planned to do a lot of runs, in order to find our feet as well as possible. We did just that. Last year I was not entirely happy with our pace on this stage – but today it all went as hoped. We are looking forward to the Rally Mexico.”

Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“The Shakedown at the Rally Mexico is a bit different to those at other gravel rallies. It is the first chance of the new rally season to compare the drivers, co-drivers and teams on this surface. We did a good job of adapting to the gravel. The times are certainly very good. However, we are well aware that it will be tough for us on Friday and Saturday, when we must open the route. Nonetheless, all three Volkswagen drivers have grand plans. As usual, we will give them the same opportunities and let them do battle – preferably for victory – without any team orders. If we are going to win, it is going to take an absolutely flawless performance.”


Thursday: the special stages of the opening day.

Friday, 26.02.2016


Mexico: A good place to make history.

 

A milestone, a possible record, the longest special stage and the shortest stage of the year. This year’s Rally Mexico is set to be a memorable one, and could be a historic event for Volkswagen – as it could for the reigning world champion, who reaches another milestone in Mexico.

 

Sébastien Ogier feels right at home in Mexico. He has been keen to stress this in advance of the rally. Not that he particularly needs to: a glance at his past record there is quite enough to prove his point. This is where the Frenchman’s World Rally Championship career began back in 2008 – with victory in the Junior class. For the past three years, Ogier has returned to Central America to continue his own personal success story there with the Polo R WRC. Now Ogier is back where it all began eight years ago – and with cause for celebration. The reigning world champion lines up in the WRC for the 100th time, with nobody needing to tell him the best way to celebrate this anniversary. A fourth back-to-back win in the World Championship would also see the Frenchman complete four victories in a row in Mexico.

 

The burden of having to open the gravel route makes this a difficult undertaking – but far from an impossible one. Ogier proved this last year, when he triumphed courtesy of a clever tyre selection and some truly outstanding driving.

 

Sébastien Ogier is not the only person, for whom an early starting position could prove problematic. Andreas Mikkelsen follows the Frenchman onto the route and will not necessarily be greeted by better road conditions than the world championship leader ahead of him. Things look more promising in this regard for the third of the Volkswagen trio. Hounded by bad luck in the opening two rallies of the season, Jari-Matti Latvala is still looking for his first points of the year. However, he can now look forward to a later start and consequently better conditions out on the route. 

 

The Rally Mexico could also be a historic event for Volkswagen. The Wolfsburg-based car maker is gunning for its twelfth WRC victory in a row in the land of cacti. Should it achieve this feat, it would equal the current record. Held by? The Volkswagen Polo R WRC, from Australia 2013 to Finland 2014.

 

There is plenty to get excited about in Mexico, and there should be no lack of spectacular action at the first gravel rally of the year – the organisers have made certain of that. The event is already regarded as a challenge for man and machine. The highest point of the rally is at 2,746 metres above sea level, higher than any other point on the WRC calendar. Nowhere is the air thinner than here. Short and sweet – this is the motto for the opening stage. At just 1.09 kilometres, the shortest stage of the season takes competitors through the tunnels of Guanajuato. In sharp contrast, the crews must cover a full 80 kilometres against the clock on the penultimate stage of the rally, which is the longest of the season and also the longest since 1983. So, no doubt: history will be made in Mexico.


Quotes from the Volkswagen team

Julien and I will not be over-confident


Sébastien Ogier, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #1
“The Rally Mexico will be the 100th of my career. A victory would be the best way to celebrate this but it will not be easy. I am really looking forward to the first gravel rally of the season. I have many great memories of Mexico and the fantastic fans there. My career began with a victory in the Junior World Championship here eight years ago – that was a dream come true for me. The last three visits to Mexico have been very successful for us. One of the key factors is the mountain air, and our Volkswagen Polo R WRC has always dealt very well with that. I hope that this will also be the case in 2016. Julien and I will not be over-confident and will be as focussed as ever when the rally begins.”

 

Jari-Matti Latvala, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #2
“Mexico will be the first gravel rally of the year and the surface is normally pretty hard. This is covered with a layer of finer gravel, which makes the surface as a whole very slippery. The surface becomes cleaner and faster as more cars drive over it. This means that it is an advantage to start the stages later – as long as it is not raining. That can happen in Mexico, but it’s relatively unlikely. I had some bad luck in Monte Carlo and Sweden. Of course, it looks bad when you have two poor results in a row, especially at the start of the season. However, I am trying to stay optimistic and I’m sure that things will go better for me now. The trophies will only be handed out at the end of the season! I’m hoping that the weekend goes smoothly in Mexico.”

 

Andreas Mikkelsen, Volkswagen Polo R WRC #9
“Although things didn’t go as planned for us in Sweden, I’m pleased with the season so far. Now we are off to Mexico – this rally is a great event and I am looking forward to driving on gravel again. Compared to last year, there are a few new special stages. “Guanajuato” on Sunday is 80 kilometres long. That will be a big challenge for us and also for the Polo R WRC. It is important to keep your energy levels up, to ensure that you can concentrate over such a long distance. I have never driven such a long special stage, but Anders and I are looking forward to it. The mountain air in Mexico is also a unique challenge. We are going to arrive early so that we have enough time to acclimatise ourselves.”


Jost Capito, Volkswagen Motorsport Director

“We have to deal with extreme situations in Mexico. The special stages are the highest of the entire season; we will face the longest stage of the year, and the shortest too in the tunnels of Guanajuato. We travel to Mexico with Sébastien Ogier and Andreas Mikkelsen in first and second place in the World Championship standings – this is anything but an easy task, as they must deal with the disadvantage of opening the route. Jari-Matti Latvala also has a good starting position in eighth. The chance of claiming a twelfth straight victory and equalling our own record gives us a bit more motivation. However, we will have our work cut out at the first gravel rally of the year, due to the very strong field there. We have never shied away from a challenge, and we are looking forward to Mexico.”

 

Thursday, 25/02/2016